In this overwraught essay, a novelist yearns for a time before addiction to technology slowly drained us of our humanity.
I don’t buy it.
We can both be connected and be fulfilled. We can stop, disconnect, read a book, make love without checking our devices for updates. And we can also be connected, while still being human. In fact, being human is being connected. We’ll figure out the instrumentation that works for us.
Can we misuse it? Yes. Will we? Yes. Do I believe that we’ll figure out the right balance, even as we redefine what it means to be human, thanks to our ability to connect in new ways? Of course.
If you want to go upstate and read a book, by all means go do it. But read this review – in the same issue of the NYT – of “Hamlet’s Blackberry” while you’re at it. We’ll evolve. Just, perhaps, not into who you want to be. Which is fine. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
3 thoughts on “We Are Capable of Many States”
Just like how one’s love life and professional life coexist, so too does a life outside technology and a life inside technology coexist. You’re absolutely right.
I can be both focused and scattered. Online [right now], I can have 5 articles open, ready for me to read. A habit from my very young youth is reading books all the way through in one sitting. I get into the state that others call “flow” and I call “away.” I don’t get there by reading Internet articles. I get there by reading a book that puts me on a train and doesn’t let me off.
Is it just me or is a lot of the impassioned warnings of technology addiction — especially as it pertains to social technology and its mass media-like applications — of a lot of elitest garbage?
Maybe I’m overly sensitive due to a combination of humble roots and a degree in literature, but it seems that those who long for “simpler” times are those who used to be the primary benefactors of having access to those who controlled media and publishing houses.
To me this boils down to one word: privilege.
As technology becomes more and more accessible, publishing comes along with it. Social technology may not be making the masses wealthier, but it certainly is eroding a certain brand of intellectual privilege.
While I understand your point about being capable of many states, I just can’t help thinking that the polemic finger waving contained in the essay you reference is really rooted in a deeper resentment that comes along with being forced to find a bigger soap box, or lamenting that the built-in audience just isn’t what it used to be.